Why do I need my chimney swept?
Below are just a few of the main reasons why it is important to have your chimney swept.
Avoiding a chimney fire– according to statistics there are on average 7000 chimney fires a year in England alone, most of which were preventable. Having your chimney swept will drastically reduce the chances of having a chimney fire, also insuring the wood you are burning is dry and has a moisture content of below 25% will help further reduce chances of a chimney fire.
Protecting your health– breathing in fumes from solid fuel or gas fires can cause respiratory problems. Ensuring your chimney is swept will make sure the flue is clear to allow these dangerous fumes escape safely through the chimney
Avoid Smoke damage– every time your stove is lit soot will accumulate up the chimney. If this goes uncleaned this will gradually reduce the size of the flue and in turn reduce the draw of the smoke upwards. If this flue is reduced too much this can cause smoke to enter the room which can cause irritation and blacken up the fireplace.
Clearing Blockages– Sweeping a chimney will also ensure the safe removal of obstructions that may have lodged inside the flue such as nests, cobwebs, Flue collapse (loose brickwork), which could obstruct the safe exit of fumes.
Rodstation Tip: Ensure your stove has been installed by a Hetas qualified engineer and you have a Hetas certificate and a chimney notice plate inside the fireplace ✓
How often should I have my chimney swept?
This depends on how often the fire is used and what you burn. A general guideline as advised by the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps is
Smokeless coals At least once a year
Wood Up to four times a year
Bituminous coal Twice a year
Oil Once a year
Gas Once a year
What are the advantages of power sweeping compared to conventional sweeping rods and brushes?
Traditional sweeping uses nylon brushes which can miss built up areas of soot and creosote which can be more stubborn to remove. Power sweeping over the years is becoming more popular with professional chimney sweeps Worldwide. Power sweeping uses a rotating or spinning head made up of nylon strands which is attached to rods and a power drill which controls the speed of which the head spins within the flue. Power sweeping has proven to be far more effective in more thorough cleaning of chimneys, interchangeable sweeping heads allow cable or chains to be used for more aggressive cleaning and removing of heavy creosote deposits. Click here to view the Rodstation range of power sweeping equipment.
What happens if I burn unseasoned wood?
Burning wet or unseasoned wood should always be avoided, the main reason for this is as the gases rise up your chimney stack, the moisture in these gases condensate on the inner walls of the chimney stack and set as a hard tar. This is in most cases will not be able to be removed and if built up could catch fire leading to a large chimney fire. Burning wet wood also gives little heat and may spit sparks into the room. You can avoid the risk of burning wet wood by buying a moister meter, this way you can reject damp wood. The wood you burn should not have a moister content of over 25%, anything higher will cause excess build-up of tar and creosote. Use only recommended fuels for your appliance and flue type (If you are unsure check your manufactures instruction or ask your stove supplier).
What causes a chimney fire?
The most common causes of chimney fires are:
Infrequent sweeping and cleaning
Burning unseasoned wet wood
Improper appliance sizing
Overnight burning or smouldering wood for long periods in wood stoves
What should you do if you have a chimney fire?
In the event you have a chimney fire evacuate the building immediately and call 999. Do not use your chimney again until it has been assessed by an appropriate specialist such as a Hetas registered or NACS registered engineer.
Have I got the wrong terminal on my chimney?
These types of terminals are designed to give ventilation to unused chimneys only. They should not be fitted to chimneys that have working gas, oil or solid fuel fires or boilers, as they slow the escape of the fumes from the chimney and could cause smoke and carbon monoxide to enter occupied rooms. If you have one of these fitted to your chimney contact a local HETAS engineer to quote for changing your terminal and smoke testing your chimney to ensure it is safe to use.
How do I find a registered chimney sweep?
To find a registered chimney sweep in your area please visit our find a dealer page. Alternatively you can search for a Chimney Sweep by Visiting:
NACS website www.nacs.org.uk
GOMCS website www.guildofmasterchimneysweeps.co.uk
APICS website www.apics.org.uk
Sweepsafe website www.sweepsafe.com
Hetas website www.hetas.co.uk
Hetas are the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses.
The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps was established with the goal to improve standards within the industry by introducing professional training and assessment for sweeps. Today, the Guild is both nationally and internationally recognised for its efforts and achievements in improving standards for both chimney sweeps and their customers.
The National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) formed in 1982 as a professional Trade Association, promoting high standards for the sweeping, inspection and maintenance of chimneys. With over 500 Members, the NACS is recommended by all major fuel organisations, including the Solid Fuel Association, HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing & Approval Scheme), and OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association).
The Solid Fuel Association is the official body representing the solid fuel industry in the UK. We are funded by the solid fuel producers (including wood fuel), fuel distributors, appliance manufacturers and retailers. Our key aims are to promote greater awareness of the benefits of solid fuel heating among the general public and to encourage both safety in use and best installation practice for the domestic solid fuel and wood burning sector.
This not-for-profit scheme provides a straightforward, thorough procedure for assessing the quality and sustainability of woodfuel supplied for use in biomass boilers and woodfuel appliances.
OFTEC is a trade association that works on behalf of the oil heating and cooking industry in the UK and Republic of Ireland, representing the interests of manufacturers, suppliers and training providers. OFTEC also takes a lead role in setting industry standards and manages a competent person registration scheme for technicians who install, commission and service oil and renewable heating and cooking equipment.